Overview of Nickajack Lake

Nickajack Lake, located in Tennessee, is a beautiful reservoir created by the Nickajack Dam as part of the Tennessee Valley Authority.

Upon arrival, you’ll see that the lake has a surface area of 10,900 acres, providing plenty of space for outdoor adventures. As the sixth step in the stairway of TVA reservoirs and locks, your visit to Nickajack Lake plays a part in the fascinating system that carries barges up and down the Tennessee River. Some common commodities that pass through the Nickajack lock include grain, wood chips, soybean oil, salt, petroleum, steel products, and coal.

While exploring the area, you might come across the stunning Nickajack Cave. This unique attraction was flooded during the dam’s construction in 1967, but don’t worry – you can still enter it by canoe or kayak. Remember, the cave houses a colony of Gray Bats, so you’ll need to be attentive. Before the dam was built, the cave was mined for saltpeter in the 18th and 19th centuries with the permission of the local Cherokee tribe.

Chances are you’re a fan of wildlife, and you’re in luck! The area around Nickajack Lake offers a picturesque beginning to the Tennessee River Gorge and sports upland hardwoods mixed with various wildlife viewing spots. With most of the shoreline undeveloped, you can immerse yourself in the serene natural environment.

Geographical Features

Nickajack Dam and Reservoir

Located on the Tennessee River, Nickajack Dam forms the beautiful Nickajack Reservoir. Stretching from Nickajack Dam to Chickamauga Dam, the reservoir covers an impressive surface area of 10,900 acres. With most of its shoreline undeveloped, you’re sure to experience the natural beauty and serenity of the area.

Tennessee River Gorge

You’ll come across the breathtaking Tennessee River Gorge as you explore Nickajack Lake. Often referred to as the “Grand Canyon of Tennessee,” this impressive natural wonder is a part of Nickajack Lake. The gorge offers stunning views and an array of outdoor activities that satisfy every traveler’s taste.

Nickajack Cave and Its Gray Bats

While you’re enjoying the serene, captivating beauty of Nickajack Lake, make sure you check out the truly unique Nickajack Cave. Home to a large population of gray bats, this cave offers an incredible glimpse of nature in action. Visit the mouth of the cave during twilight hours to witness the gray bats’ nightly flight in search of food.

Recreational Activities at Nickajack Lake

Boating and Fishing Spots

If you’re looking to unwind and enjoy the beauty of nature, Nickajack Lake in Tennessee offers a variety of recreational activities, with boating and fishing being popular choices. The lake is home to abundant fish, including catfish and bass, making it an ideal spot for avid anglers. So, grab your fishing gear and head to one of the many fishing spots around the lake!

Boat Ramps

To make your day on the water even more enjoyable, Nickajack Lake offers several boat ramps for easy access. These ramps are conveniently located around the lake, ensuring you’ll be able to get your boat into the water quickly and with minimal hassle. 

Additionally, fishing berms are available, providing an excellent opportunity to cast your line from the shore.

Accessible Facilities

One of the standout features of Nickajack Lake is the accessibility it offers to all visitors. Even right before dusk, when the views over the water are truly spectacular, you’ll find facilities designed with everyone in mind. The concrete fishing pier, for example, features footbridges and a wheelchair ramp, ensuring that everyone, regardless of ability, can enjoy the beauty and serenity of this picturesque location.

Outdoor Activities

While boating and fishing are undoubtedly popular, there’s more to explore and enjoy at Nickajack Lake. The surrounding area boasts various outdoor activities, including bird watching, picnicking, and hiking, thanks to the nearby Lower Sequatchie Management Unit.

Annual Festivals and Events at Nickajack Lake

Here are some of the most popular festivities and activities that happen every year.

Tennessee Valley Fair: Mark your calendars for August 29 – September 8, 2024. The fair has exciting attractions, live music, thrilling rides, and delicious fair food. It’s a perfect way to celebrate the end of summer with your family and friends.

Nickajack Lake Fishing Tournament: If you’re a fishing enthusiast, attend the Nickajack Lake Fishing Tournament on April 19-20, 2024. You’ll have the opportunity to put your skills to the test, compete with fellow anglers, and even claim some prizes!

Nickajack Lake Boat Show: For boat lovers, the Nickajack Lake Boat Show will take place on May 3-4, 2024. It’s a must-attend event! You’ll be able to browse a variety of vessels, learn about the latest technology in boating, and enjoy a social atmosphere surrounded by fellow boating enthusiasts.

Nickajack Lake Fireworks Display: What better way to celebrate Independence Day than with a dazzling fireworks display? On July 4, 2024, Nickajack Lake hosts this spectacular event. Bring your picnic blanket and enjoy an evening of sparkling colors that light up the sky.

Nickajack Lake Fall Festival: To truly enjoy the beauty of fall, join the Nickajack Lake Fall Festival happening on October 11-12, 2024. This event features an array of seasonal activities, including pumpkin decorating, hayrides, live music, and delicious autumn treats.

Local History

Did you know that Nickajack Lake has a rich historical background? The area is home to the magnificent Nickajack Cave, which has witnessed over 300 years of Tennessee history. In the 18th and 19th centuries, the cave was mined for saltpeter with the permission of the local Cherokee tribe. Moreover, the Chickamaugan town of Nickajack was situated between the cave and the river, from where they attacked settlers in Middle and East Tennessee during the late 1700s.

Nickajack Lake was formed in 1967 with the completion of Nickajack Dam (river mile 424.7) on the Tennessee River. This dam, managed by the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), replaced the Hales Bar Dam, built privately in 1913. Most of the lake’s shoreline remains undeveloped, adding to its natural beauty.

Today, the area around the lake showcases the beginning of the stunning Tennessee River Gorge, characterized by upland hardwoods mixed with pine. Wildlife viewing is a popular activity around the lake, especially with the colony of Gray Bats inhabiting Nickajack Cave.

To visit the famous Nickajack Cave, you can head to New Hope, only about 25 miles from downtown Chattanooga. Enjoy a memorable day exploring the unique cave and the lake, delving into the historical significance of this beautiful area of Tennessee. Remember to respect the wildlife and the environment as you embark on this adventure!

Nearby Chattanooga Attractions

Hey there! Are you planning a trip to Nickajack Lake, Tennessee? Remember to explore some of the nearby Chattanooga attractions while you’re in the area because there are loads of fun activities for everyone to enjoy.

One of the great attractions in the Chattanooga area is the Nickajack Bat Cave Kayak Tour. Put on your life jacket, grab a paddle, and embark on a guided kayak tour that takes you out on the Tennessee River to witness a fascinating natural phenomenon. With Chattanooga Guided Adventures, you’ll learn about the area’s history and the bats’ importance as you explore the cave.

Another fantastic spot for water-based activities is Chickamauga Lake. This massive reservoir on the Tennessee River allows visitors to indulge in various water sports like fishing, waterskiing, paddling, and lakefront camping. It’s perfect for a fun-filled day with family or friends.

If history piques your interest, take advantage of the chance to visit Nickajack Cave during your stay. This cave has a rich historical background, as it was used as a shelter for Native Americans and, later, river pirates. Nickajack Cave was a source of saltpeter, crucial for making gunpowder, during the War of 1812 and the Civil War.

For cycling enthusiasts, an Incline Railway Bike Tour down Lookout Mountain could be an exhilarating experience. Chattanooga Guided Adventures also offers this unique tour, providing all the equipment and instruction, so even if it’s your first time, you can have a fantastic bike ride.

Be sure to make the most of your trip to the Chattanooga area and Nickajack Lake by experiencing these fantastic nearby attractions. Enjoy your adventure, and have a great time exploring this beautiful region!

Travel Tips and Information

When planning your trip to Nickajack Lake, Tennessee, remember a few key things to enjoy your visit to the fullest extent possible.

First, Nickajack Lake is a favorite destination for outdoor enthusiasts, offering a wide spectrum of activities such as fishing, boating, and wildlife viewing. Late April to early October is a fascinating time to visit, as around 100,000 endangered gray bats make their home in the partially flooded Nickajack Cave during this period.

Bring your fishing gear along, as the lake is known for its abundant fish populations, including bass, crappie, and catfish. Plenty of fishing spots surround the lake, so don’t hesitate to explore and find your perfect corner.

If boating is more your style, several marinas are available around the lake to rent boats or launch your own. Make sure to follow all local regulations when on the water and be respectful of other boaters.

As you travel around the Nickajack Lake area, stay hydrated and pack snacks, sunscreen, and bug spray. Dress appropriately for outdoor activities and variable weather conditions, and always be prepared for unexpected weather changes.

Now, you might be wondering about accommodations near Nickajack Lake. There are plenty of options for lodging, from campgrounds and RV parks to hotels and cabins. To find the perfect option tailored to your travel preferences, consider checking out various travel websites, reading visitor reviews, and exploring affiliate links in articles about the area. This way, you can make an informed decision and have a comfortable stay during your trip.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some popular activities at Nickajack Lake?

At Nickajack Lake, you can go boating, fishing, and viewing wildlife. The beautiful undeveloped shoreline is perfect for exploring and enjoying the natural beauty of the area. Bring your camera and document the gorgeous scenery!

How do I find campgrounds near Nickajack Lake?

To find campgrounds near Nickajack Lake, you can search online for nearby locations. Websites and apps dedicated to camping and RV parks are excellent tools for finding the perfect spot for your stay.

Where are the marinas located on Nickajack Lake?

For information on marinas located on Nickajack Lake, you can check online resources or local directories that provide information on marina services, locations, and contact information.

What rental options are available for Nickajack Lake?

Various rental options around Nickajack Lake include boat rentals, fishing gear rentals, and other equipment. Check with local businesses near the lake or browse the internet to find the best rental options for your needs.

Can you tell me more about Nickajack Cave?

Nickajack Cave is a truly unique and mysterious attraction at Nickajack Lake. While no tours are available, the cave entrance is large and safe for cautious visitors. If you want to create memorable experiences during your visit to the Volunteer State, exploring the cave should be on your list!

What is the fishing like at Nickajack Lake?

Nickajack Lake offers excellent fishing opportunities for anglers. You can expect various fish species in the lake, such as bass, crappie, and catfish. Check the local fishing regulations and obtain the necessary permits before casting your lines.

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